Photo courtesy of Vertigo Comics
This month sees the publication of the 60th and final issue of the critically-acclaimed graphic novel Scalped. While great comics come and go all the time, what makes this series particularly noteworthy is the ethnic diversity in its cast. Set on the fictional American Native reserve of Prairie Rose the majority of the characters are Aboriginal along with white, black, and even Hmong side characters.
Undercover FBI agent Dashiell Bad Horse returns to his reserve to take down tribe leader and big-time gangster Lincoln Red Crow. His loyalties are tested as he deals with an unscrupulous FBI superior (Baylis Nitz) who will go to any means to see Red Crow behind bars. Alongside being an intense criminal drama, the series explores issues common on modern-day reserves, ranging from poverty and alcoholism, to remorse, family bonds and the preservation of a cultural identity. Often compared to TV's The Wire, Scalped is gritty, character-driven storytelling at its peak, and one of the best adult offerings the comic book medium has to offer. Writer Jason Aaron has worked hard to ensure that his characters are individuals not typecast by their race.
Photo courtesy of comicsalliance.com
In a storytelling landscape where protagonists are almost uniformly white men Scalped was a breath of fresh air when it first hit the stands in March 2007, and five years later still remains one of the only titles with a cast comprised of ethnic minorities. While a diverse cast may bring newcomers to the series, it's the high-quality storytelling that will keep them there.
The series end does not come as a result of slumping sales (sales have actually remained quite consistent); rather Aaron always envisioned the series to have a finite ending. While it's sad to see the comic book industry lose a great title with an ethnically diverse cast, it's good to know the writer is able to tie off the story on his own terms.